Looking for lodging with character on the coast? These seven Maine inns have ocean views, the smell of salt air, and more than 1,200 years of history among them.
Vacationers have sought refuge along Maine’s shaggy, 230-mile coastline for as long as the New World has had vacationers — and some of the state’s most charming lodging options have been catering to them for hundreds of years. We teamed up with Expedia.com for a look at some of our favorite and most storied seaside Maine inns, from quaint bungalows to soaring chateaus. Don’t forget your deck shoes and your beach towel.
It doesn’t get more historical than this family friendly hotel, with its single turret and back-door access to Kennebunk Beach. It’s very likely the oldest hotel in America: an inn has occupied this site since at least 1660, and the current owners represent the ninth generation of innkeepers. Breezy, seaside décor and private porches and balconies make the most of the terrific beachside location. 80 Beach Ave., Kennebunk. 207-967-4461. $259–$379 double, with significant discounts in the off-season.
Impeccable service and attention to details have set this Relais & Châteaux property apart since 1973, but various incarnations have welcomed guests since it was a Civil War–era boarding house. Find fresh flowers in your room, Jacuzzi tubs, and complimentary bikes and canoes with which to explore town and the Kennebunk River, right outside a few of the inn’s luxe cabins. 37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk. 207-967-2321. $290–$625 double; $440–$950 suite; $570–$1,160 cottage.
Dapper enough that it once hosted Frank Sinatra, wooly enough to have enticed naturalist Rachel Carson. This small, secluded resort’s iconic white clapboards and colonial columns date only to 1943, when a fire destroyed the original façade, but the hotel itself goes back to 1816. The grounds are a lot nicer than two centuries back: stroll around to find gazebos, trails with gobsmacking ocean views, an in-ground pool, even a bowling alley (candlepin, naturally). 60 Newagen Colony Rd., Southport. 207-633-5242. $175–$245 double; $255–$345 suite; $375–$425 cottage.
In the 1920s, this charmingly simple inn was a bunkhouse for granite workers from a nearby quarry. Lucky them: the inn backs up to a channel separating two picturesque coves, and the bucolic peninsula where the Craignair is found has attracted artists from Edward Hopper to Andrew Wyeth. Farmhouse elegance is a theme carried throughout the lodge rooms, cottages, and a standalone annex that was once a country chapel. Bring your camera in June to shoot the abundant lupines. 5 3rd St., Spruce Head. 207-594-7644. $125–$225 doubles and suites.
A persistent rumor around midcoast Maine holds that the turreted, stone façade of the Norumbega Inn is the state’s most photographed structure. Even if that’s not true, the magnificent seaside B&B, built in 1886, calls to mind a grand European castle, and while the décor inside is contemporary, there’s a feudal opulence to touches like in-room gas fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, and poster beds. 63 High St., Camden. 207-236-4646. $269–$629, double and suite, with discounts in the off-season.
Croquet fans gather here every summer for a sprawling tournament on the vast, sloping lawn — which gives you an idea of the genteel vibe at this wooden, four-story grand dame. The Claremont was built in 1884, a few decades before much of Mount Desert Island became Acadia National Park, and you can’t beat the ocean view or the location for exploring Acadia’s “quiet side.” Thoughtful touches include babysitting services, free loaner bikes, and a substantial library. 22 Claremont Rd., Southwest Harbor. 800-244-5036. July–Aug. $312–$444 double and cottage, with discounts in the shoulder seasons.
This unassuming 1775 Cape Cod (it’s been everything from a former Masonic hall to a military barracks) looks out over Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays. Inside, the atmosphere is classic New England, with antique furnishings, a jumbo central fireplace, and a collection of colonial artifacts on display. Eastport’s artsy downtown and working waterfront are a short walk out the front door. 1 Capen Ave., Eastport. 207-853-2328. $80–$110 double. (No credit cards.)